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Without the increased membership and activity religious sects, it would be impossible to argue against the claim that we now live in a fundamentally secular society - Evaluate this statement

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Introduction

Secularisation essay Without the increased membership and activity religious sects, it would be impossible to argue against the claim that we now live in a fundamentally secular society Evaluate this statement. One of the major disputes in the sociology of religion concerns how important religion continues to be in an age of industrial and scientific progress. This debate is interesting not only for its religious importance, but also for the methodological issues that it raises. The word 'secular' means 'worldly, not sacred, temporal, profane'. The process of decline, the social significance of religious thinking, practice and institutions is called secularisation. On the one hand, there are those who suggest that religion has gone through a massive decline, from a 'Golden Age of Religiosity'- A time presumed to have existed in the past when members of society were more religious than they are today. Some believe this time to be a myth, to a situation where religion has a limited and often formal importance in those societies. ...read more.

Middle

However, it is important to bear in mind that defining religion is problematic, and how it is defined will influence views on the process of secularisation. Measuring religion is also difficult and thus it is not easy to measure the growth or decline. New religious movements, which take the form of sects or cults, involve smaller numbers than the major non- Christian religions. The UK Christian Handbook lists 18 such movements and has estimated the membership of these organizations along with that of other new religious movements. Membership rose by 5,000 between 1980 and 1995, an increase of 130% British figures are hard to trust attendance and membership figures may be distorted by the ulterior motives of those who produce them. Membership figures can be calculated in different ways. Therefore, statistics on church membership are highly unreliable and the trends indicated by figures may be misleading. Sects are in many ways, the opposite of churches in everything except their belief that they have a monopoly on the truth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Weber also argues that all sects are originally based on personal charisma that is on a leader who has special qualities, which followers see as inspirational. Wilson argued that sects develop and change; they are not static entities, but are diverse and Complex. They are attempts by people to construct their own societies, forging new normative patterns to fit their ideologies, which are usually in opposition to those of wider, society. He emphasis's eight special qualities, which relate to a sect membership: 1. Voluntary 2. Based on merit 3. A source of identity 4. Elite identity 5. Expulsion is possible 6. Individual conscience is vital 7. Members must accept the sect as legitimate 8. Exclusive He classified sects according to their response to the world. The principal criterion is their response to the question 'what shall we do to be saved?' he noted that different types of sect made different types of appeal, and said the categories must not be from the Christian tradition alone nor form only a particular period in history. He thus identified 7 types and the fundamental message they offered. ...read more.

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